Across from Francfranc on the corner of Aoyama-dori and Gaien-nishi-dori is a two-storey salad bar in Parisian style called CITRON. Situated a few meters from my apartment in Gaienmae, Tokyo, I discovered it almost immediately on arrival in the neighbourhood.
As is often the case with my keen restaurant-radar, before I could see it I nosed it as I turned the corner—air redolent with cheese, rosemary, onions and garlic. The heady aroma and sign reading “Paris” in the open take-out window drew me inside like a magnetic force.
Behind the service counter stood Jonathan Berguig the founder and owner. An open-hearted and charming man who shifted easily between French, English and Japanese (sometimes in the same sentence), he welcomed me into his establishment.
In front of him stretched a salad bar, various quiches, gratins and—be still my beating heart—the most glorious of great, round lemon tarts. Eight centimeters in height and 30 centimeters in diameter, these were cut into wedges of sublime puckering sweetness.
In addition to the numerous vegetarian soups, salad combinations and savory offerings on the menu, these lemon tart slices were—bar none–the best I have ever enjoyed in my lifetime. The flavour of the thick and flaky crust was almost identical to my Mennonite grandmother’s Schnetje, a simple pastry which can be used any number of ways.
Three or four times a week I would drop by to enjoy breakfast, lunch, a coffee break or dinner. Any time was a perfect time to indulge such irresistible pleasure. All of CITRON’s various offerings savoured in the warmth of the upstairs dining room became a mainstay of my self-care and solace while rattling about the vast city in which I was an alien who did not know a single soul.
As has been the case with each trip to Japan, I had no idea when (if ever) I might return to Tokyo after my 90-day visa expired. For that reason I was determined not to regret a slice uneaten.
We agreed on it and I meant to get Jon’s recipe before leaving. Alas, it was one of those details overlooked in the final week’s rush to finish ikebana classes, pack my suitcases, clean my apartment and say my boozy good-byes to some of the dear people I met during my stay.
Now back in Victoria, I am on the prowl for but have yet to find something that might match those bites of golden goodness. I feel the lack so deeply that every time TripAdvisor sends an update on airfare to Tokyo I’m sorely tempted. So much so that once again I’m working on it. I can taste it.